An employer-university collaboration approach by WMG to deliver the right skills

Sue Parr, Director of Degree Apprenticeships

Many companies are identifying that apprenticeships are vital to their talent development – shaping the future of businesses and addressing needs to nurture new skills in the workforce through looking to the brightest young talents. Making apprenticeships work can be a significant contribution to addressing the skills shortage.

WMG at the University of Warwick was founded to work with industry and bridge the gap between academia and business – something that we have been doing for 40 years this year. It therefore seemed completely appropriate when the Apprenticeship Levy was introduced in 2017 to work with companies to develop programmes that would meet their needs, and the needs of their new or existing employees.

Designing programmes for business impact

We prefer to work as closely as possible with employers. Apprenticeships work best when we are able to work in partnership with an organisation from the beginning. Our academic teams work with subject specialists within the organisations to design a programme that will provide apprentices with a powerful and effective combination of academic study, real work activities and opportunities to develop the professional skills they will need throughout their career.

Supporting businesses and apprentices

In an effort to ensure a seamless integration between the academic parts of the programme and the workplace elements, we introduced the role of Apprenticeship Tutor to our apprenticeship team. Apprenticeship Tutors work with employers from the early stages of discussions to understand the role in which the apprentices will be employed, the broader organisational context, staff development processes and “languages” that are current within the business.

The Apprenticeship Tutors also work with line managers to ensure that apprentices have the opportunities to gain the skills they need, but also to create a dynamic and regular relationship that sets the tripartite review meetings up in a way that are of real value to everyone involved. We work hard to make sure all elements of our Degree Apprenticeships are logical, smooth and consistent to ensure our apprentices identify all parts of the programme with equal importance and feel focused on a set of specific goals, activities and development opportunities.

“The skills gap” is often cited as a challenge for British industry. Degree Apprenticeships can be an effective way for workforces to develop new skills, and for organisations to keep up with rapidly changing environments and industries. With the right support from their employer and the university, apprentices can really help shape the future.

To find out more about our Degree Apprenticeships at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, or to ask our expert team any of your burning apprenticeship questions, please contact us and we would be happy to help. Visit our website:, call 02476 572760 or email